From drought to deluge: A perspective on our local water

From drought to deluge: A perspective on our local water

From drought to deluge: A perspective on our local water
Contra Costa Canal during dry season (photo by Pete Cruz). Winter flooding during recent atmospheric rivers near Clayton (photo by Tamara Steiner).
Pioneer Guest Editorial by Ernesto A. Avila, P.E., Contra Costa Water ­District, Board President

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 15, 2023) — The last few years have been challenging on many fronts, including multiple years of drought that were met with mandatory calls for conservation. I want to acknowledge all of you in finding new and creative ways to trim your water use to meet our community’s state-mandated conservation goals. We gratefully appreciate every drop you saved.

Some positive news: this year has brought promise to our near-term water supply. The Governor has not yet officially lifted the Executive Order regarding the drought emergency; however, the state’s snowpack is well above average, reservoirs continue to fill, and storms are adding to the snow and rainfall counts.

While we’ve seen plenty of rain (and even snow on Mt. Diablo!) locally, conditions at Lake Shasta and the mountains above that reservoir are closely monitored by CCWD to get a sense of the amount of water we will have available to serve customers. Why? Your drinking water originates primarily from rivers feeding Lake Shasta. When water released from Lake Shasta flows into the Delta, CCWD pumps it into our system.

What is happening with water supply this year? Initial indications from water regulators are that CCWD will receive adequate supplies to meet the needs of customers for the upcoming year. In anticipation of the state also lifting drought mandates, CCWD is initiating steps to put its drought management plan to rest, including ending the temporary drought surcharge.

While this is great news for the near-term, we must continue efforts to strengthen our ability to manage challenges with a changing climate bringing more significant extremes of longer dry periods and shorter, more intense, wet periods. CCWD is working on modernizing facilities and expanding resources through alternative water supplies and interagency partnerships to ensure reliable water service for today and tomorrow. Learn more about CCWD and upcoming work at

Reach Ernie Avila via the Board Secretary at 925-688-8024 or by using the contact form on

Related story: U.S. Drought Monitor declares Contra Costa County 100% drought free